Saturday, July 24, 2021

Southwest Parks 2021 - Day 7 (7/15/2021) - To Palm Springs

We were in no particular hurry this morning other than checking out of the Paris hotel before the designated 11am time. We braved the long lines at one of the cafes to pick up some pastries for breakfast, which we then ate while sitting in the car in the garage. We then hit the road for the 4 hour drive to Palm Springs.

According to Google, the fastest route was through the Mojave National Preserve; so we took it to save the whole 9 minutes compared to the next fastest alternative. This made for an...interesting...drive as the route immediately lived up to the "Rough Road" warning signs. The first 10 or so miles had many places where what looked like floods had washed dirt and small rocks onto the roadway. I'm guessing we lost at least that 9 minutes having to slow down for those.

We got a little nervous about the fuel remaining while going through the preserve, as we had about half a tank heading in. We were down to a quarter tank after getting out, understandably not having passed any gas stations inside. The first gas station on our route at this point was a place called Roy's Motel & Cafe. It looked like it was still in the mid 1900s, with an analog (for lack of a better word) pump that the attendant had to unlock and pump for customers. The gas was also super expensive at almost $5.50 per gallon; but I guess you can charge that much when there's almost literally nothing else around. Right after getting gas we got stuck at a railroad crossing, though the "oncoming" train was standing about 100 yards away and not moving. When a couple of cars drove around the barrier (the first truck cutting the line to do so), we decided to do the same and continue on our way. Thankfully the rest of the drive didn't have any more incidents.

Fran (and I) are perplexed by the old-timey gas pump

We arrived at the Aqua Soleil Hotel in Desert Hot Springs around 4pm. After checking in and sitting around for a minute, we hopped back in the car to head out to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. We got a couple of day-of tickets at the counter and were fortunate to begin boarding for the 5:15 departure right as we arrived. This was my second time riding the tram, and the first time for Fran. There is apparently a difference of on average 40 degrees between the temperature at he bottom of the tram and at the top. The last time I was there was in March 2017, and at that time of the year the top still had unmelted snow. This time the bottom was somewhere around 105°F while the top felt like a very pleasant 75°F. The top station of the tram is at the peak of Mount San Jacinto, and part of the state park there. There are a couple of relatively short "hikes" from there, and we decided to do a stroll around the shortest loop there (I believe it was called the Nature View loop, but I'm not certain). Fran really enjoyed the scenery and climate at the top. Another highlight for her was the tram operator playing a few popular oldies (e.g., "Sweet Caroline", "Ain't No Mountain High Enough") on the ride down.

We took the 7pm tram back down to the base, then drove to downtown Palm Springs to find dinner. After a short walkabout we happened upon a street fair that was going on - the Palm Springs VillageFest. We watched a bit of some break-dancers, then waited in line for some food from 3 different vendors (tamales, Mediterranean - falafel, and Salvadorian). We ate the grub on a bench before driving back to the hotel.

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Full pictures for the trip here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/FQpbDfmdGRksjimi9

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